HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The state has instituted a hiring freeze at Pennsylvania's prisons to save money, but the union that represents corrections officers says the administration is gambling with the officers' lives.

Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel issued an internal memo May 27 outlining imposed a department-wide hiring freeze immediately until at least July 1.

Pennlive.com first reported the memo Tuesday (http://bit.ly/1oIMOw8 ).

Wetzel's memo says the hiring freeze is the first step in dealing with tight finances resulting from the state's growing budget shortfall.

Jason Bloom, western region vice president of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, tells Pennlive.com that prison staffing is at the 2008 level, while there are 5,000 more inmates since then.

Bloom says the inmates know the corrections officers are already outnumbered and this step will make it worse.